With the end of 2017, we are saddened and disheartened by the continual signs of violence, indifference, and seeming hopelessness that surround us throughout the world. We long for peace. We ache for peace. We pray for peace.
We see the struggles across the planet of families displaced, separated, taken from their homes and forced to flee their communities in search for peace.
We watch the scenes on our daily news and it is too much to take in. If we do not wake ourselves up, we become numb, unable to see how we can ever make a difference.
One of the struggles that does not reach our news reports is the plight of the Palestinian people, a people who are systematically oppressed by Israel apartheid. At this holy time of Hanukkah, Israeli military checkpoints are shut down for the benefit of the military, thus prohibiting the movement of Palestinians to reach their lands, jobs, schools and families.
What has reached our news reports is the recent declaration by President Trump of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, despite the fact that Palestinians also have their center of worship in Jerusalem. Human rights groups and governments throughout the world have condemned this decision and called it a “grave threat to peace.”
So where do we look for a call to peace? Who has the moral message for all of humankind?
It is none other than Pope Francis, who in his message for the 51st World Day of Peace 2018, wishes “Peace to all people and to all nations on earth…especially for those who most keenly suffer its absence.” Pope Francis recognizes that “welcoming others requires concrete commitment, a network of assistance and good will, vigilant and sympathetic attention…”
One ray of hope in the US government is the recent sponsorship of HR 4391 promoting Human Rights by ending Israeli Military Detention of Palestinian Children Act. Introduced by Rep. Betty McCollum (D-Min) and 9 others, it has continued to gain additional support in the House of Representatives and brings to light the abuses of the Israeli forces against Palestinian Children.
In this new year of 2018, Pope Francis, through his message “Migrants and refugees: men and women in search of peace”, continues to be the global voice for peace as he calls on the United Nations for leadership in the development of global compacts for migration and refugees.
The Palestinian people are refugees in their own lands as their homes and businesses are destroyed to make way for new Israeli settlements, and for them we pray that they will not be forgotten and may enjoy peace in this New Year.